Crazy Woman Boat Driver
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Heading south down the US east coast to the Bahamas
Thanked 17 Times in 14 Posts
Rep Power: 14
I am so proud of you in your quest to single hand your boat. Congratulation!
Docking is scary at best and downright heart attack at worse for every sailor. To make docking as uneventful as possible I do a few things first.
First I set up my docklines whether on the dock or on the boat so I can easily get to them. I also color code my docklines. Since the springline is the most important both of mine are RED. That way there is no miscommunication with any helpers as to which line to grab first. My bow lines are gold and stern lines are white. This helps with anyone not familiar with boat terminology. I cannot tell you how important this color code helps out to prevent miscommunication with the end result in getting the right line in the right place. Always put the springline first. Learn how to spring your boat into the dock.
Second is to plan on every docking situation. I break it down into four phases; initial approach, turn into the slip, once in the slip and escape plan if the plan isn't working. All docking situations have to take into account the slip/dock environment, wind, current, freeboard of the boat, turning capabilities of the boat, prop walk, and what is the boat going to do once the boat stops. If the docking situation is new and/or going to be difficult due to any of the above, I had a dry board where I draw out all three phases to give a clear idea of what I need to do during each phase of docking. This helps me for two reasons. One is I have thoroughly though out the process and wrote it down. I draw the docking environment, with wind direction along with the current direction. Writing down the plan than helps because as the docking process starts, anxiety takes over and tunnel vision with thought process can start. Looking at the plan brings me back to what I need to be doing when I get overwhelmed. In addition, with crew members everyone has a clear idea of how the docking is going to take place and what their duties are.
I cannot emphasis how important it is to know how your boat handles under power. Power exercises is so important to do like MOB drills. Here is my power drills.
Spinning the boat both starboard and port. Know how to spin your boat within its own length or shortest distance. Prop walk can be your best friend here. By giving bust of throttle in forward and reverse one can usually turn the boat within it own length.
Backing your boat. Start with S-turns both to right and left doing each at least 300 feet. Do them also starting in different wind and current angles. I practice using my docking orientation taking into account wind and current. I know how the boat will handle exactly now.
Do circles backwards with your boat to port and starboard.
Final drill is starting from a standstill from 4 different directions (90 degrees) using wind direction as the starting point. Notice how the boat drifts, how much room it takes to get boat moving into the direction going with the wind and against. This shows how the boat will behave in tight quarters.
Hope this helps.
As always plans are made to be broken. Be flexible and adjust accordingly.
Catalina 445, Hull #90